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Understanding the Causes of Back Acne

back acne

We have seen a few young men in the clinic lately complaining about back acne. Some of these men do not have a spot on their face, but they have plenty on their backs. We thought it might be an idea to write an article discussing the possible causes.

What is Back Acne?

Back acne, commonly referred to as “bacne,” is a condition that can be both uncomfortable and distressing. Similar to facial acne, it involves the development of pimples, cysts, and blackheads on the back. Understanding its causes is the key for effective management and treatment.

The Causes of Back Acne.

Excessive Oil Production

One of the primary causes of back acne is the overproduction of oil by the sebaceous glands. These glands are more concentrated and larger on the back, leading to higher susceptibility to acne.

Dead Skin Cells Accumulation

The accumulation of dead skin cells on the back can clog pores. When mixed with excess oil, this clogging becomes a breeding ground for acne.

Friction and Pressure

Constant friction and pressure against the back, often caused by tight clothing, backpacks, or sports equipment, can irritate the skin and aggravate acne conditions.


Sweat can exacerbate back acne by creating a moist environment that’s conducive for bacteria growth. It’s essential to maintain good hygiene, especially after sweating due to physical activity. A good reason to shower straight after the gym session.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, menstrual cycles, or pregnancy, can trigger back acne. These changes can increase oil production, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.

Dietary Factors

Certain dietary choices, like high sugar, salt, and dairy intake, might contribute to acne in some individuals.

A Low-Glycemic Diet

Contrary to popular belief, greasy foods like fries and burgers are not direct causes of acne. However, research suggests a significant connection between a low-glycemic diet and reduced acne outbreaks. High-glycemic foods, which raise blood sugar levels rapidly, include white bread, sugary drinks, and white rice. Studies from the USA, Australia, Korea, and Turkey have shown that a low-glycemic diet, rich in fresh vegetables, some fruits, beans, and steel-cut oats, can lead to fewer pimples and reduced need for acne medication.

Cow’s Milk and Acne

Interestingly, cow’s milk, a low-glycemic beverage, has been linked to increased acne breakouts. Studies in the USA, Italy, and Malaysia indicate that consumption of cow’s milk, regardless of its fat content, correlates with higher rates of acne. Theories suggest that hormones in milk may cause inflammation and clog pores, but further research is needed for a definitive conclusion.

Yogurt and Cheese

Contrary to cow’s milk, there’s no evidence to suggest that dairy products like yogurt or cheese exacerbate acne breakouts.

Sodium Intake and Acne

A study assessing the impact of diet on acne revealed that individuals with acne consumed significantly higher amounts of sodium chloride (NaCl) compared to those without acne. The results indicated a negative correlation between the amount of dietary NaCl and the age of acne onset, suggesting that higher salt intake might lead to earlier development of acne, but a link to the actual amount of intake of salt and acne is not clear.

Personal Observations and Skincare

If you suspect certain foods are triggering your acne, observe your skin’s reaction when you exclude these items from your diet. While diet plays a role, comprehensive acne treatment also involves appropriate skincare.

The Medik8 range

We recommend the excellent Medik8 range of products for acne sufferers.


If you have any questions about your back acne feel free to get in touch with us at the clinic. You can contact us here.


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